To Dedicate Please Contact Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Three times a year all your malehood should appear before Hashem your God in the place that He will choose (Devarim 16:16).
The above posuk instructs us to ascend to the Beis Hamikdash three times a year on the festivals of Pesach Shavuos and Succos.
The commentators note that this same requirement is repeated twice more in the Torah with slight variations. The two other posukim are as follows: 1) Three times during the year all your malehood shall appear before the Master Hashem (Shemos 23:17). 2) Three times in the year all your malehood shall appear before The Master Hashem the God of Yisroel. (Shemos 34:23).
It is noteworthy that in the first posuk, Hashem is described simply as the Master. In the second posuk Hashem is described as the Master Hashem, the God of Yisroel. In our parsha Hashem is described as Hashem your God with no mention of Master.
We may ask, what significance lay in the fact that the Torah repeated this requirement three times? Further, why does the Torah change the words it uses to describe Hashem?
Let us suggest that the first two references allude to two eras in our history when the Jewish People made pilgrimage trips to the Beis Hamikdash to appear before Hashem. They are the era of the First Beis Hamikdash and the era of the second Beis Hamikdash. The third and final reference of our parsha alludes to the future period of the third Beis Hamikdash when we will once again ascend to the Beis Hamikdash three times a year.
The first Beis Hamikdash was built by Shlomo Hamelech. In his era the world achieved a near perfect state in which all nations of the world recognized the existence of Hashem. The Beis Hamikdash was not just a central location for Jews but for non-Jews as well. Thus, the first posuk describes Hashem in an all-inclusive title as the Master Hashem.
The Second Beis Hamikdash was built by the Jewish People after galus Bavel under the leadership of Ezra. At this time the Jewish People did not command the same respect among the nations of the world as it had during the era of the first Beis Hamikdash. This was manifested in the need to secure permission from the ruling nations for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash and again later to receive approval for renovations. Thus, during this era, the Jewish people ascended to the Beis Hamikdash three times a year, a place that was recognized as the home of the Divine Presence for the Master Hashem who was only the God of Israel, and not of the rest of the world.
In order to explain the third posuk and its relation to the era of the third Beis Hamikdash we must give the following introduction.
The Tetragramaton consists of four letters, i.e., yud kay vav kay. Chazal teach us that the Tetragramaton is not to be pronounced as it is spelled but rather with the expression of Master i.e., adonoy. Chazal explain that according to the esoteric teachings of Kabala the pronunciation of Hashems name as it is spelled represents Hashems attribute of Divine Justice. The pronunciation of the Hashem name with the expression of Master represents Hashems attribute of mercy. The relation between Master and mercy is seen where Avraham begged mercy on behalf of the wicked people of Sedom using Hashems name of Master (Bereishis 18:31).
The times we live in are times of imperfection and thus we are in need of Divine Mercy. When we pray with the name of Hashem we pronounce it with the expression of Master in order to invoke the attribute of Divine Mercy. Chazal teach us that with the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash and the coming of Moshiach we will achieve a state of perfection and be ready for the attribute of Divine Justice. At that time we will pronounce the Name of Hashem as it is spelled. This idea is intimated to in the well know posuk that we recite at the end of alanu. The posuk says, And Hashem will be (at the end of the day) One and His Name will be One (Zecharia 14:9). Today it appears that Hashems has two names, one, the name we write, i.e. yud kei vav kei, and the other the name we pronounce, i.e., adonoy. However with the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, Hashems name will be One. We will then pronounce His Name the same way it is written. We will no longer need to invoke the attribute of Divine Mercy.
The first two references of the Beis Hamikdash describe Hashem with the word Master. This is because during the era of the first and second Beis Hamikdash the Jewish people had not yet reached an exalted spiritual level in which they were able to abandon the need for the attribute of Divine Mercy. They still expressed Hashems name with the description of Master, which represents the attribute of Divine Mercy. However, the posuk of our parsha makes no mention of the title Master. Thus in the time of the third Beis Hamikdash we will reach the exalted spiritual level of Divine Justice and no longer need to refer to Hashem as Master but rather Hashem our God.
© Efraim Levine 5761/2001